Chief Executive Newsletter Updates

The Farmers Club Newsletter – No. 72 January 2024

General Update
Happy New Year!  I just wanted to wish all members a very Happy New Year, I suspect that if you are like me, the Festive Season seems a distant memory!  After the hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Year’s Festivities, the Club appears quietly calm at present, which members equally appreciate.  However, members are returning in strength and we have already, in only our second week into the New Year run a number of events, and the pace of life is about to increase.
New Year Honours List 2024.  I am delighted to be able to congratulate three members who were recognised in this year’s Honours List:  Paul Heygate and Philip Wynn were appointed to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE).  Paul was recognised for services to the Food Industry and to Charity, with a career as a senior leader and ambassador for the Milling, Baking and Farming sectors.  Philip was recognised for his leadership in large scale farming and food-related businesses and most recently as Chairman of the sustainable farming group Linking Environment and Farming (Leaf); a true custodian of our countryside and the environment.  Dr Catherine Baxter was appointed to be a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to Higher Education.  Catherine was recognised for a career of three decades in higher education administration and management with unstinting commitment to four Universities, most recently Harper Adams. Catherine played a significant role in supporting the agricultural sector and the next generation of farmers.  Congratulations to you all.
Winter Journal: Impending Arrival.  The Club Winter Journal is now with the printing company, and I anticipate the new edition will be landing with you from Monday 22nd January onwards.  Watch out!
Club Refurbishment.  The first phase of this year’s Club refurbishment programme is already well underway.  The 2nd January saw work commence on the 10 bedrooms on the Upper Ground Floor.  The relatively quiet start to activity in the Club affords us the opportunity to ‘make hay whilst the sun shines’ and ensure this important work is completed with minimum disruption to members.  Whilst this room refurbishment is evident to members visiting the Club, what is less apparent and out of sight to most members is the work completed on the Housekeeping office ‘downstairs’.  This aspect of refurbishment will provide Jacinta, Head Housekeeper, and her busy team with a far more professional, modern and effective workspace.  As you can see, it’s been a busy 2-weeks for the Team!
New Team Arrivals.  I am delighted to report that we have continued to attract and recruit new Team members despite the competitive hospitality climate.  Prior to Christmas the following have joined the Club Team:

Zara Filipova.  Zara has joined the Reception Team.  Originally from Bulgaria, she has lived in London for 9 years and has worked in hospitality for 10 years.  Before arriving at the Club, Zara was a Receptionist at The Arts Club.  She is a fitness fanatic and enjoys travel.
Marco Terrile.  Marco is a Sous Chef in the Kitchen Brigade.  He is from a small mountain village near Venice.  Unsurprisingly for an Italian, his passions are food, wine and motorbikes.  Marco said ‘…working at The Farmers Club is a great opportunity to further understand the beauty of British produce and the connection with our suppliers’.
Jack Yon.  Jack has just completed a degree in Neuroscience after rejoining the hospitality industry to pursue his passion for food.  Jack was attracted to join The Farmers Club because of the way we champion British produce using both traditional and innovative techniques.  When away from the kitchen he enjoys enjoy rock climbing and bouldering.
New ‘Winter into Spring’ Menu.  Head Chef and Director of Food, Paul, is finalising the new ‘Winter into Spring’ seasonal menu.  Just a few dishes to tantalise include: baked devilled Dorset Crab; Cornish Gurnard with lightly spiced Cauliflower; Highland Venison and West Sussex root vegetables; and Malt Extract Sticky Toffee Pudding with roasted Apple and Celeriac ice cream.  What is there not to like about dining in The Farmers Club Restaurant.  The new menu will be launched on Monday, 5th February.
Subscription Payments: Thank You.  I would like to thank all members who have made a timely payment for this year’s subscriptions, it is really appreciated.  As a reminder, subscription rates can be found on the membership page of the website here for 2024.  Mark Fairbairn can be contacted ( if you have any queries concerning membership matters.
Oxford Farming Conference 2024.  The Chairman, Richard Maunder, and I attended the Oxford Farming Conference last week.  I thought the Conference, with a theme of the ‘Power of Diversity’ was a quite excellent event and featured a wide variety of interesting and inspirational speakers from across the breadth of the farming sector.  It was a chance for me to meet so many Club members and also to attract many new potential members to the opportunities The Farmers Club has to offer.  Of course, I was able to continue to build my knowledge and understanding of the sector and its many issues.  It was also a great pleasure to see U35 Chair Andrew Court attending as part of the OFC Inspire Programme and U35 Marcus Webb attending as The Farmers Club Scholar. The Spring Club Journal will contain more detailed articles from the OFC.  In summary, Conference Chairman, Will Evans, his supporting Directors and all the speakers are to be congratulated for delivering a superb event.

Recent Club Events
Father Christmas Comes to Town!  The Farmers Club was fortunate to receive a timely visit by Father Christmas.  The Lounge was transformed into a Winter Wonderland of treats as 24 children supported by parents and grandparents welcomed ‘You Know Who’; I am not sure who enjoyed it more!  It really was a magical day filled with love, laughter, and festive cheer and was a great opportunity for families to get together and enjoy some quality time away from the chaos of the Christmas crowds outside.

New Year’s Eve Club Black-Tie Dinner.  Described as the ‘best ever’ New Year’s event at the Club.  The evening saw 96 members enjoyed a Champagne Reception and sumptuous 4-Course Dinner before retiring to the Terrace, with Champagne in hand, to count down the New Year and witness the spectacular London fireworks celebration.  Members partied to 1pm and enjoyed an early hours breakfast of Welsh Rarebit Crumpets, one of Chef’s big hits that will undoubtedly be making a return to the Restaurant soon (please?).
Look Forward

Upcoming Club Events.  All the current planned events can be found on our website HERE.  It’s worth exploring what events are coming up.  By popular demand we have increased the number and frequency of ‘Big Ben Tours’, which also include lunch in the Club before climbing all those steps.  There are now opportunities to sign up for the Chairman’s Smithfield Market & Butchers Hall Tour on the 9/10th April.  Subsequently, the Chairman’s Tour to Devon runs between 15th – 18th May, and during which Devon members, not on the Tour, are invited to attend an evening at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum to celebrate the rich heritage of County Devon with Richard Maunder. Enjoy a Drinks Reception and 3-Course Dinner of local produce, surrounded by the art and history within Gallery 20’s exhibition.  An excellent opportunity to meet other local members along with this year's Chairman.  You may well have guessed that ‘food and fun’ feature large in Richard’s events this year.

I would particularly like to highlight the following three events:

  • CHANGE OF DATE: Tuesday Evening Lecture: The Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP, 23rd January 2024.  This month’s Monday Evening Lecture, which was planned for 22nd January, due to the Secretary of State’s busy schedule, has had to change to a Tuesday Evening Lecture on 23rd January.  In an election year and following the Secretary of State’s recent announcement at last week’s Oxford farming Conference, this is a pivotal opportunity for members to quiz Steve Barclay on the policies and his recent announcement.  Detailed timings are:
           5pm       Tea and Coffee served in the Lounge.
           5.25pm  Members to be seated in The Farmers Suite.
           5.30pm  Lecture starts followed by Q&A.

          On completion Drinks and Chef’s Treats will be served: An opportunity to chat informally with Steve Barclay.
  • St George’s Day Lunch: 23rd April.  One for your diary. Major General (Retired) Sir Christopher Ghika KCVO CBE will be the guest speaker.  Christopher, amongst many other duties, was the senior officer responsible for Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Celebration, State Funeral and Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III.
  • Monday Evening Lecture: 29th April.  I am hoping that The Rt Hon Steve Reed MP, Shadow Secretary for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, will be our guest speaker at this MEL.  Following Steve Barclay, it is only right that the main opposition party have the opportunity to explain their policies and approach before the general election later this year.

And finally…
I am planning to expand Club Outreach activities across the country this year.  I believe that events, such as a farm walk for all ages, combined with a pub lunch and talk by myself and the Chairman would support engagement with members in the regions outside of just the Show season.  I am interested to know your thoughts and whether this is something you believe would be of value.  Drop me an email or catch me in the Club and tell me what you think.
I look forward to seeing you both in The Club and in visits around the country in 2024 as we support Richard Maunder in his Chairman’s year.